The Delta State government has approved the sum of N372, 993, 920.00 as enrollment fees for the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) and National Business and Technical Board (NABTEB) examinations for students in senior post-primary and vocational schools across the state, even as the state government has confirmed that the delay in the payment of January 2016 salaries was occasioned by a planned attempt to fleece the govt. of as much as N7bn, from the salary vouchers for the state ministries, department and agencies, which was quickly nipped in the bud, before it was executed.
These disclosures were made during a Post-Executive Council press briefing by the Commissioners for Information, Patrick Ukah, Education (Basic and Secondary), Chiedu Ebie, Housing, Joseph Ogeh and Works, James Aguoye, at Government House in Asaba.
Throwing more light on the release of the enrollment fees for the Examinations, both the Information Commissioner, Patrick UUkah and his Education (Basic and Secondary) counterpart, Chiedu Ebie, noted that, while the fees was to cover for the examinations and incidental costs for 28, 898 students and 477 NABTEB Candidates, it also underscored the agenda of the Okowa led administration to provide an enabling environment for the students to go all the way in fulfilling their potentials both in secular and technical education.
Ebie particularly emphasized that the students were selected through a verification process, after they had been shortlisted from there SS2 promotion exams and while allaying suspicions that some of the excellent results used for selecting the students may have been achieved through ‘miracle centres’, urged the selected students to ensure that they prepare properly and also turn up for the exams to justify the huge amount the government was putting in to secure their future academically.
The Delta Education Commissioner further threw more light on the situation of the Edu Marshalls, stressing that Govt. has not scrapped the programme and while there was no plan yet to abrogate them, a systematic process has been put in place to address the matter appropriate.
He equally spoke on the recently concluded Delta State Education summit, noting that the attendance had been quite impressive and while the state was still diluting the contents and communiqué from the summit, a comprehensive report was been prepared to address the salient points of the communiqué, as it concerns Delta State, which will require extensive implementation.
Addressing newsmen in what was his maiden appearance at the regulat post-exco press briefing, Delta State Commissioner for Housing, Arc. Joseph Ogeh, informed the media that a Housing firm known as Greenfield had already been contracted in the construction of a housing scheme at Illah, in Oshimili South LGA and while adding that the issue of compensation for land had already been addressed, affirmed that the houses when completed, would be made available to both civil servants as well as other Deltans, who desired to reside in the estates.
Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, while addressing newsmen at the briefing, said that the state Government had concluded arrangements to construct a new, befitting and ultra-modern Secretariat complex, which he noted, would not only help to conserve funds currently been expended on rented apartments to house some MDAs by the save the Delta State Government, but would most importantly ensure proximity between the MDAs which was imperative to accelerate and harmonize government functions amongst them.
Ukah, then proceeded to read a Press Statement issued by the Delta State Commissioner for Finance, Olorogun David Edevbie, which detailed the attempted plot to swindle the Delta State Government of the tune of N7bn meant for January salaries of civil servants in the state.
Olorogun Edevbie, in the statement after the State Executive Council meeting in Asaba, said that the swift intervention by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa “saved the state from being defrauded during the payment of January, 2016 salaries.”
Edevbie, in the statement read by Mr. Ukah, said: “Salaries for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as the Polytechnic staff, were delayed due to an alert on February 3, 2016 of attempt to defraud the state through the payment of salaries.
“The Permanent Secretary cum Accountant-General, on receiving the alert, immediately informed the governor who directed that the security agencies in the state and the bank be informed immediately. He also directed the Permanent Secretary/Accountant-General to put in place, additional control measures to forestall future attempts on the account.”
The statement further noted that arrests have already been made and while enjoining Deltans to always report unscrupulous activities for appropriate actions, said that Governor Okowa’s administration was committed to credible, transparent and accountable stewardship to the citizens.
Edevbie said: “”The State policy with regards to the payment of worker’s salaries is to ensure that it’s general workforce are paid on or before the end of the month. However, in the case of January 2016, where salaries were paid between 8th and 9th of February 2016, it has become necessary to brief the press and the general public on the reason for this delay… This administration has zero tolerance for fraud and we advise all who have such intent to desist forthwith,” the statement concluded.